Labour archive donated to National Library

Thu, Oct 11, 2012, 01:00

THE LABOUR Party had never turned away from a challenge, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore said in Dublin last night.

The Labour leader was speaking at the presentation of his party’s archive, covering 100 years since its 1912 foundation, to the National Library of Ireland.

The archive includes policy, election and referendum material as well as a variety of internal reports, letters and papers going back to James Connolly’s time.

“The contribution of the Labour Party to the democratic life of the nation has often been neglected, sometimes ignored,” said Mr Gilmore. “This centenary year presents the party with an opportunity to set the record straight . . . If there is one thing that comes up again and again from the first decades of the 20th century to today, it is Labour’s ambition for an independent Ireland and Labour’s vision for our country.”

The Tánaiste said that faced with suffering, the forces of reaction and the consequences of economic disaster – in this decade, at this time, and in times past – the party had never shied away from a challenge.

So when Labour voted in an overwhelming majority to enter Government last year, he said, “we did so because of who we are as a party and not, as some would have it, in spite of it”.

Mr Gilmore said it had not been easy, that sometimes progress had been frustratingly slow but that anyone who recalls Ireland’s position in February 2011 and our position today could deny that there has been “significant progress”.

“We still have a hard road to travel, in particular to get more jobs created and to get the public finances back on a sustainable footing. But the lesson from our history is clear: just as the men and women who founded this party, through their actions, changed Ireland for the better, so too will we.”

Director of the National Library Fiona Ross welcomed the donation of the archive: “We are incredibly honoured and grateful to accept it on behalf of the citizens of Ireland, whom we serve.”

Speaking before the event, Mr Gilmore accused Fianna Fáil of “hypocrisy” in its campaign against the property tax.

“Fianna Fáil agreed in December 2010 with the EU and the IMF and the ECB that a property tax would be introduced in 2012 and that it would raise €500 million. It now seems that they have suffered from amnesia again and forgotten what they did in government,” he said.